Human Exceptionalism

NHS Meltdown: UK To Offer Free Cesareans On Demand

Cesarean sections will soon be treated as a lifestyle right in the UK, rather than a surgical procedure properly restricted to women who demonstrate a therapeutic need.  And, it will not only be “on demand” for those women who don’t wish to experience the travail of labor, but free under new NHS guidelines about to go into effect.  From The Sun story:

For the first time they will not need to show there is a medical need. The National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence (Nice) plans to  introduce new guidelines letting healthy women opt for caesareans if they  prefer that birth method. A draft report says the rules are changing because caesareans are now much  safer. Consultant obstetrician Dr Bryan Beattie, who helped to draw up previous Nice  guidelines, said: “It is a huge development.”

Priorities please! This is the same NICE that restricts some life-extending treatments based on quality of life/cost of care criteria.

Normal childbirth is not an illness.  Indeed, in recent years there has been a concerted international push to reduce the number of unnecessary caesarians because they have some distinct health risks and cost more. And with the NHS also providing free IVF–also very expensive–imagine the cost of a woman becoming pregnant through reproductive technologies, and then demanding an unnecessary cesarean.  All for “free.”

This new freebie  comes at a time of  serious financial crisis within the NHS, which as a single payer system with a global budget, raising an important and pertinent question: Whose care will be cut in order to pay for these free, medically  unnecessary surgeries? Remember, as recounted often here, the NHS is so financially strapped that many hospitals are imploding, the elderly are often neglected, and seriously injured people sometimes wait hours in ambulances or hallways before receiving care.

On a broader level, this story is another unfortunate example of how health care is morphing into being almost as much about facilitating lifestyle desires of “consumers” as it is treating “patients” and providing medical treatment, traditionally understood.

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